How does Clemson plan to use the freshman running back this year?
This past spring, the NCAA passed a new rule when it comes to redshirting first-year freshman on the football field.
In the past, once a freshman played in a game, he was no longer eligible for a redshirt unless he qualified for a medical hardship in case of an injury. However this spring, the NCAA passed legislation that allows a student-athlete to play in four games—no matter what time of the year—and still be eligible for a redshirt season.
Coaches all across the country are thrilled with the new rule because it allows them to play certain freshmen that might be ready to play both physically and mentally and see how they perform. It also allows them to bring others along slowly and see how they develop and see if they can possibly be used late in the season without burning a redshirt.
It also helps teams with depth late in the season if a starter or a reserve player is injured and is forced to miss a number of games, i.e. Tre Lamar last season or Shaq Lawson in 2015.
It would seem freshman running back Lyn-J Dixon would be a perfect candidate for the new rule. Though the Butler, Ga., native has come out and has been the talk of camp with one big run after another, including a 50-yard touchdown in last Saturday’s scrimmage, the fact of the matter is he is not going to pass anyone on the depth chart at this time.
Travis Etienne is the starter and Tavien Feaster will be in the mix there as well and will probably get just as many carries. Adam Choice is expected to be Clemson’s specialty back on third-and-short, goal line and in passing situations.
However, the Tigers like to have four scholarship running backs for every game. That means Dixon will suit up for every game.
“He is well positioned right now, based on what I have seen, to probably not redshirt,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “It is hard (to redshirt him). You need four backs. You are going to lose one for sure this year in Adam. He is a senior.”
Clemson was in this same situation last year with Etienne, but the Jennings, La., native exploded on to the scene, literally, and became the Tigers’ leading rusher and touchdown scorer in 2017. When C.J. Fuller transferred out of school last January, it meant the Tigers were faced with the same problem again this season.
This year, at least from what is coming out of the Clemson camp, Dixon will play this coming season for the Tigers.
“We will go through and see if he is not getting the amount of playing time or opportunity, then in mid-season you make a decision, but right now, he is a guy that can probably help us in some situations, but also in special teams,” Swinney said. “So, we will see. Those first three have done nice jobs, but Lyn-J has shown that he can hang with any of them.”